The Sopranos - All Seasons

I imagine that at most meetings that happen at HBO, someone ends up writing "Darker and Edgier" on a whiteboard, and then underlines in three or four times for emphasis, and then says, "Did you even read my email? I asked for darker and edgier."

This is the most overrated show of all time. The first season was okay, except the by-the-numbers mafia plot and that characters were mostly stolen from things Scorsese and others had done years or decades earlier.

After season one's story arc, about a quarter of the episodes were bottom-tier soap opera, and three quarters were gimmicky one-offs ("Imagine a mafioso at an X! What a incongruous situation for a mobster to be in lol!!"). Imagine Mr. Ed but instead of a horse it's a psychologist and instead of Wilbur it's a bunch of characters stolen from much better stories. Except that, once in a while, Mr. Ed's jokes would actually land.

Even worse than the show was the theme song, which is the bottom of the barrel of white guys ripping of old blues. It's the soundtrack to the life of a middle manager who wears jean jackets and flannel on casual Fridays, and has a blonde ponytail, and snorts coke, and asks you to recommend him an ashram as a thinly-veiled pretence for recommending you his favourite ashram. He says he likes the song because it reminds him of how he likes to live his life: intensely.



Corner Gas - Season One

Not bad, but, unless you're already a fan, jump to season two. Or just watch the last episode if you're not sure. The romance subplot was awful, but they picked up the fumble later on.



Derek - Season One

Great cast. Sometimes everything comes together and works but, most of the time, it varies weirdly between cringey, hilarious, boring, touching, and cheesy. I admire the effort (A+), but I'd have rather not wasted my time.



Good Times (1974-1979)

When this show started, it was supposed to be a serious drama disguised as sitcom. Then it became a wacky, nothing-special sitcom because watching people teetering on the edge of starvation is exhausting but watching a funny twenty-minute show at the end of a hard day is nice.

Norman Lear sitcoms are sometimes emotionally poignant, and they often try to prove a point in a preaching-to-the-choir way. But they're almost never entertaining.



Wings - Season One

One of the most unfairly-forgotten sitcoms of all time, involving some of the writers from Cheers. In spite of a rocky first few episodes, it holds up much better than most sitcoms from the same era. Also, it takes place in Nantucket and, in one episode, they have an almost-unrecognisable Megan Mullally play the girl from the limerick.



19-03-31 Weekly Links


Children's Hospital - Season 7

As much as I enjoyed this, it was probably the right call to make this the last season. Seasons 3-6 where perfect and so was most of this one, but weaker filler episodes started creeping in. Still, it was a lot more good than bad, and I really loved the final episode.



Man Down - Season 1

An over-the-top combination of violent slapstick and the most miserable of British humour.

It takes a handful of sturdy, reliable sitcom tropes and twists them into near-unrecognizability. The entire cast is brilliant, the writing is excellent, and Roisin Conaty's blind enthusiasm brilliantly offsets the rest of the show. Even with a rocky first episode, I couldn't recommend this strongly enough.



Man Down, 1st Christmas Special

What an amazing and beautiful cast this was.